Contributing Monkie Whitney Sander
Published on January 12, 2009
I am Catherine Holliss the designer in charge of the interiors and the materials on the project.
The architect, Whitney Sander and I collaborate on the choice of finishing materials and other details for the building. That means that I present materials and ideas for the flooring, the wall coverings, the kitchen cabinets, the fixtures, the bathrooms, the exterior finishes, colors, and the list goes on. I like to think that this level is where the texture gets added to the ‘canvas’ of the architecture.
The clients, Joanna and Thomas are passionate about green, eco-friendly materials and solutions and so are we – it has been a marvelous collaboration from the very beginning.
Of course, Hobbes, their dog is an important part of the process. He’s a Briard (a kind of shepherd originally from the region of Brie, in France) and the project name, Residence for a Briard, is appropriate because he has been a big influence on many aspects of the design. Keeping the house pet-friendly has been an important part of many of our design decisions.
One of the things that is most fun about my job is the opportunity to get to know the client very, very well. It’s a deeply personal thing to embark on a new home and being asked to create someone’s home — their haven from the world — is an honor. It’s a process that brings out a lot of emotion. I like to joke that there are days it would be helpful to have a degree in psychology. Luckily Joanna and Thomas are very much on the same page when it comes to their aesthetics and their priorities. They also love our work. That makes it easier because we know we’ll have not only a positive response to our design suggestions but a unified one. Imagine how tough it is to negotiate when one half of the couple loves traditional and the other modern. It happens all the time – and then a degree as a marriage counselor would be helpful too!
I am particularly thrilled to be a designer at a time when there are so many cutting-edge materials — and they are not only green but gorgeous. I will throw in links to some of my favorite materials over the upcoming weeks. Call it my greatest hits list…
When we started thinking about this building we quickly realized that the flooring of the ground level would be the concrete construction slab. To warm it up literally we will use radiant heat. To warm it up visually we wanted to stain it a warm brown or reddish color.
That’s where the first fun ideas started flying around. Leslie Bega, who is a raw food chef, among many other talents, suggested that we use natural stains. Well, that set off a flurry of suggestions: red wine, pomegranate juice, tomato juice and so on. You can imagine that the idea of a staining party, using several cases of ‘Two-Buck Chuck’ or Charles Shaw red wine, to be consumed frugally and spilled liberally was a source of great amusement.
I will check in regularly with comments as the Residence for a Briard comes to life.